Mears and union in dust-up over beard ban for workers

Grant Prior 7 years ago
Share

A war of words has broken out between Unite and Mears after the contractor banned its housing maintenance workers from having beards.

Mears is demanding its workers are clean shaven so dust masks are fully effective.

The only exceptions are if a worker can’t shave for medical reasons, a dust mask can’t be worn for medical reasons or a person has a beard for religious reasons.

Unite regional official for London Mark Soave said: “The arrogance of Mears is hair-raising.

“This is a highly delicate issue, which has huge cultural, religious and personal issues and where sensitivity should be the watchword. Instead members have been handed a decree from on high.”

Mark Elkington, Group Health and Safety Director of Mears Group said: “We are pretty surprised that Unite, who claim to have the safety of workers at heart have taken this disappointing stance.

“Every employer in the UK has a legal responsibility to ensure that employees working in dusty or otherwise potentially hazardous environments are properly protected and in recent years employers have been prosecuted for failing to fulfil this duty.

“The simple fact is that no dust mask can work effectively unless it forms a seal against the skin.

“That is not possible with a beard or even heavy stubble. If the Health and Safety Executive did a spot site visit and found workers wearing dust masks that were not sealed against the face then we would be liable to prosecution.

“The alternative to a dust mask is a full hood over the head, which brings its own risks.

“For example many of our operatives do not like wearing a full hood and it can affect hearing and line of sight.

“It can also be uncomfortable to wear and can raise concerns with our clients who do not like to see workers in such hoods because of how it looks to customers.

“It is vital to note, however, that if a risk assessment shows that the hood is a better option for a job or a worker insisted on having one, then, if assessed to be suitable, we will supply that hood.

“If one of our workers suffers respiratory illness as a result of a poor fitting mask then that is our responsibility and we place the safety of our workers at the top of the priority list.

“Finally it is worthy of note that this affects a very small percentage of our workers who would be in that environment.

“One has to question the real motives of Unite which has chosen not to take the safety of its members seriously in order to make a cheap point.”

Matthew Judson, technical director at safety equipment specialist JSP said: “Mears cannot allow their staff to work if not properly protected.

“A mask cannot be tightfitting on stubble, there really is no argument on that. If you want protecting you need to shave or use the powered devices.”

 

Latest news

More Osborne companies file administration notices

Three more divisions lodge notices with court
1 hour ago

McLaren wins multi-storey urban logistics contract

South London win with British Land is pioneering urban logistics hub
45 mins ago

Big social housing schemes at risk over funding uncertainty

Housing associations warn uncertainty over public funding beyond 2026 is curbing new schemes
48 mins ago

Kier wins Worcestershire town centre renewal

Firm secures Bromsgrove commercial and cultural hub project
21 seconds ago

BAM signs Kent school contract at £42m

Sevenoaks school rebuild signed off at £8m more than first estimates
41 mins ago

RG Group signs £121m Newcastle rental homes job

Developer Olympian Homes advances 519 flats plan at Pottery Lane site
3 days ago

Geoffrey Osborne files administration notice

Contractor in talks to save parts of the business
3 days ago

Winners named for £260m Manchester Uni framework

B&K, Henry Bros, Graham, Robertson and Vinci among new line-up
3 days ago

Shed specialist Benniman rides out market lull

Worcestershire warehouse builder says industrial and logistics work is picking up again
3 days ago

Another contractor cleared after high profile immigration raid

Adana Construction employees were working legally on site swooped on by Home Office
3 days ago

McAleer & Rushe wants to meet new London suppliers

Contractor holding Meet the Buyer event in London: Register now
3 days ago

McAlpine signs £500m Broadgate dual towers deal

Work to start on iconic 36-storey and 21-storey towers
4 days ago

Worker rescued from collapsed four metre deep trench

Fire crews take six hours to save trapped builder near Blackwall Tunnel
4 days ago

Gove puts another major building scheme on hold

Secretary of State starts another planning fight after M&S defeat
5 days ago

Greenwich University tenders £300m framework

Up to five firms will carry out upgrade and newbuild work at three campuses
4 days ago

Work starts on Manchester 26-storey Obsidian tower

Contractor Domis starts Salboy's 10th Manchester scheme in seven years
4 days ago

Race for £1.3bn West Midlands social homes framework

The Community Housing Group reboots tender race for new build housing
4 days ago

Delancey submits £400m King’s Cross lab plans

200,000 sq ft lab/office project will be built above railway and tube tunnels just 4.5m below
5 days ago

Winners revealed for £150m fire safety framework

New deal will help organisations comply with the Building Safety Act
4 days ago

Sellar plans £500m City tower next to Walkie-Talkie

Consultation starts on London 60 Gracechurch Street tower
5 days ago

Severfield ends year on high with record order book

Orders top £500m with strong future pipeline of opportunities ahead
5 days ago

Second senior director exits National Highways

Commercial director Malcolm Dare set to move on to new role
5 days ago

New scheme fuels London lab building boom

Plans in for 160,000 sq ft Whitechapel scheme near Royal London hospital
5 days ago

Contract race starts for next £155m section of A9 dualling

Prior Information Notice published for Tay Crossing to Ballinluig stretch
6 days ago

£55m Sheffield build-to-rent scheme approved

Demolition to start later this year for 158-flat Sheffield Garden project
6 days ago

London back as most expensive place to build in world

Capital leapfrogs Geneva to top costliest construction rankings
6 days ago

Gas supplier Regent to buy TClarke for £90m

£491m turnover listed building services specialist to be sold
6 days ago

Steel contractor Billington launches into bridge market

Steelwork firm hires staff from failed architectural and bridge specialist SH Structures
6 days ago

McGee employees benefit from rise in profits

Pre-tax profit doubles boosting payouts for Employee Ownership Trust
6 days ago

Lendlease veteran is latest new McAlpine director

Paul Sims joins as Operations Director after 40 years at rival contractor
7 days ago

Contractor services